Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Dishgracepoint! Whether you're in Berkeley or back home, we hope you are enjoying this time with friends and family.

DIY Martinelli's

Dish Gracepoint sparkling juice


Here's a quick and easy recipe:

Whenever we get together for the holidays it's nice to have a bottle of Martinelli's. The only problem is that it's not too practical for a large gathering. It's kinda pricey and there's only 3 cups in each bottle. Why not make your own?

Go to the freezer section and get a can of frozen apple juice concentrate - the kind you add 3 cans of cold water to. It's about $1-2 on sale. Buy enough seltzer water, sparkling water, or club soda. It should be about $1 for a 2liter. Thaw the frozen concentrate until it's a thick syrup and chill the carbonated water. Mix together and serve immediately.

The nice thing about this is that you're not limited to apple. You can try cranberry or a mixture like cranberry and apple, apple peach, cranberry pomegranate...etc by mixing syrups. I would not recommend carbonated orange juice -- I doubt it'll be good.

If you want the authentic Martinelli's experience, you can add cider mix to make sparking cider.

Turkey - Dry Brining

At Dish Gracepoint, we're all about streamlining and saving time/work. Brining is great, but it adds extra steps (and it's a bit messy). Jim Kwak sent me this article on dry brining and in theory it's an excellent technique: http://www.latimes.com/theguide/holiday-guide/food/la-fo-calcook18-2009nov18,0,6560622,full.story. You could do this in about 5 minutes.


Application:

  • Unwrap the frozen turkey (at least 3 days before use), you probably want to do this as soon as you get it.
  • Measure 3/5 tsp salt per lb turkey. (a 15lb turkey would be 3 tablespoons).
  • Measure about 1/4 tsp dry herb/seasoning per lb (15lb turkey = 1.5 tablespoon).
  • Mix salt & herbs in a bowl and rub onto the turkey. It'd be nice to get the herbs under the skin, but you can just rub it on the outside of the skin to save time.
  • Double bag 2 large trash bags and place the turkey in the bags.
  • Try to seal the bag as best as you can (to prevent juice from leaking into fridge)
  • Thaw in fridge for 3 days or so. Rotate the turkey once or twice during this time.
  • When the turkey is fully thawed, it will be seasoned/brined from center to skin.
I personally like an herb mix called Poultry Seasoning. You can pick it up at Safeway. It's a mix of Thyme, Sage, Marjoram, Rosemary, Black Pepper and Nutmeg.

Turkey - how to carve

It's pretty simple, but for someone who's never done it before it may seem intimidating. Here's the first result I found on google. It gives a quick visual on how to do it.

Turkey - brining

Brining is a good way to make a juicy turkey. I personally like to inject saturated salt-milk solutions into the meat, but brining is a classic/proven method of adding flavor and juciness. Here are some tips on brining your bird:
  • 1 turkey, about 12 pounds

The brine:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 gallons cold water

(the ingredients below are optional, but add a nice touch)

  • 2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 5 whole allspice berries, crushed

To prepare the brine:

  • Remove giblet bag from turkey, along with any extra internal fat and pin feathers.
  • Rinse well under cold tap water.
  • Combine sugar, salt and 3-4 quarts of the cold water in a large bowl. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Add remaining brine ingredients except for the remaining 1 1/2 gallons water.
  • Use a special brining bag or double-bag two heavy-duty, unscented trash bags and put them in an ice chest that is large enough to hold the turkey.
  • *you can also use a large stockpot if it fits - just keep this in the fridge
  • Place turkey in bags, pour in brine and remaining 1 1/2 gallons water - there should be enough liquid to completely cover the bird.
  • Press out air in bags; tightly close each bag separately.
  • Keep turkey cold with bags of ice, which will also help keep it submerged in the brine.
  • Brine for 12-24 hours.

Braised Turkey

Quick Look_______________

dish gracepoint braised turkey

This post comes from Jim Kwak. Braised Turkey based on Mark Bittman's NY Times recipe published: November 12, 2008. In order to soak the turkey, it's cut into pieces. Braising is a good way to cook evenly and get juicy meat.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hrs
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself
  • 10 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

Directions_______________

  • Rub salt and pepper into turkey.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil.
  • Add sausage, bacon and as many thighs as will fit comfortably, skin side down
  • Brown all well, removing bacon first(it will brown first), then sausage; set aside.
  • Turn thighs when they are well browned and cook a minute on skinless side. Remove them, too, and repeat with remaining thighs if necessary. Add breast to pan and brown it well, skin side down, then flip and cook for just a minute and remove. Set pan aside.
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Soak mushroom in hot water and cover.
  • In pan used for turkey, cook carrots, celery, onions, sage and rosemary in leftover fat.
  • When all vegetables are tender and beginningto brown, add drained mushroom, reserving liquid. Return bacon and sausage to pan. Cook another minute and turn off heat.
  • In a large roasting pan, place turkey, browned side up
  • Fill space between turkey with vegetables. Add mushroom soaking liquid, leaving any sand and grit behind.
  • Add stock or water as needed to come about 3/4 the way up sides of thighs and breasts, or just under the browned skin.
  • Put in oven and roast, uncovered, for 3 hours, checking occasionally to make sure liquid level remains sufficiently high and stirring vegetables if they threaten to brown too much.
  • To serve, put vegetables on a platter; slice turkey and lay them on top.

Turkey Q/A - fresh/frozen

Is there a difference between fresh and frozen turkey?

I don't have a definitive answer on this one, but our house made fresh and frozen turkeys in the past and we think the fresh turkey is juicier and more tender. However, when done right, it's hard to tell the difference between the two. It's more important to not mess up the turkey rather than the type you get. Since frozen tends to be much cheaper, I get frozen.

Tip: Make sure you give enough time to fully defrost or you might have to resort to this: http://www.disgracepointonline.org/2008/11/dishgracepoint-recipe.html

5 hrs/lb is a minimum for thawing a turkey in the fridge. If you are cooking for this Sunday, Thursday would probably be the absolute latest for thawing.

30mins / lb is a minimum for thawing by submerging in cold water. Replace the water every 30 mins. It'll take about 8hours on average with this method.

Turkey Q/A - how many people

I've been getting this question often in the past few days:

Q:"How many people can a turkey feed?"


A:For a co-ed college group: I'd do 1-1.5lbs/person (depending on how much you eat)

For praxis/post-grads: I'd do 1lb/person

Does this sound like a lot? A turkey has lots of bone/skin/fat and other non-meat portions to it. In my experience with cooking whole chicken, I usually do 1.5lbs per person.

For a second opinion, check out the bottom right corner of http://www.butterball.com/en/index.jsp -- they suggest 1lb/person and 1.5lb/person for big eaters. I would err on the side of too much cause it's nice to have leftovers instead of running out.

Also keep in mind how much side dishes you are making when you estimate the food. My experience is there are bags and bags of leftovers taken home in gallon ziplocks

---Again, this is true if the turkey is good. A dry, bland turkey might be closer to 0.5lb-0.75/lb (child size portions)---

Peaches and Cream Pie

Quick Look_______________

'gracepoint-peaches-and-cream-pie

The following recipe comes from David Dip. The holiday season is quickly approaching and with family gatherings and other special dinners it's nice to have good desserts. This recipe was used for many potlucks and has been a hit evertime. It doesn't seem too difficult from the look of it.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself.
  • 1 pie = 8 servings?

Ingredients_______________

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 (3 ounce) package non-instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 (29 ounce) can sliced peaches in heavy syrup, drained and syrup reserved (you can buy peaches in lite syrup too, but don’t buy the peaches in syrups flavored from other fruits)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Total: fairly cheap, you should have mostr ingredients already.

Directions_______________

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease sides and bottom of a 10 inch deep-dish pie pan.
  • In a large mixing bowl (bowl #1), whisk room temperature butter until it’s has a smooth consistency. Then mix in flour, baking powder, and pudding mix. Mix together to get a semi-homogeneous mixture.
  • In another mixing bowl (bowl #2), use a hand mixer or a whisk to beat cream cheese or Neufchatel until ‘fluffy’ (to a smooth consistency is fine). Then beat in sugar and 3 tablespoons of the peach syrup. The syrup makes the mixture more liquid-y and easier to mix. Then mix in 1 tsp of ground cinnamon.
  • Mix together ½ cup of milk and 1 egg and pour into bowl #1. Mix together by folding the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients. Don’t over-mix; lumps are okay.
  • Pour contents of bowl #1 into pie pan and place peach slices on top of this in any arrangement you want. Then pour contents of bowl #2 into the pie pan making a concentric inner circle with a radius of 1 inch smaller than the pie pan. (so the outer crust can rise and brown)
  • Top it off with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool before serving

Tips and Tricks_______________


I usually make double this portion at one time, so I like to have a mixture of cream cheese and Neufchatel.
The original recipe had ½ tsp of salt, but I don’t think it adds to the flavor. It might even turn out too salty if you don’t take into account types of salt. So I just don’t add it all.
I like to microwave my cheese for 10-15 seconds in the microwave to soften it up before beating.
Instead of using a whole 29 ounce can of peaches for one pie, I usually split the can amongst 2 pies or use a 16 ounce can per pie instead.

Dish Gracepoint Recipe Requests

I run into the problem of having to put up new content on a regular basis and sometimes I feel tapped out. I'm not sure whatelse I could post about.... so if there is a recipe you want to see posted then leave a comment and let me know. I'll look up different recipes and put in some modifications or improvements when possible and then post it. I'm currently thinking about different types of salads and dressings as my next project.

Easy prep pulled pork

Quick Look_______________

'gracepoint-pulled-pork

This post is special to me because it's my signature dish. This recipe is an update of another recipe. It follows the same principles behind my 8-hour bbq sauce and the process has been streamlined to require very little work. You can use the same cooking time and temperature for 4lbs or 40lbs! Recently, it's been used for various home worship groups this summer at Gracepoint Fellowship Church and as far as I know it produced good results with ease everytime.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 8 hrs
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself, would help to have some people to help shred meat.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 15-18 lb Pork shoulder/country style ribs/pork butt (all the same cut with different names) [$1-$1.49/lb on sale at safeway, Costco is a good source]
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 8 cups BBQ sauce [I STRONGLY RECOMMEND "Cattlemen smoky", $10 for a 2-pack at costco]
  • 1/4 cup tabasco or other hot sauce (add to taste, optional) (I personally use 3 tablespoons Korean red pepper paste)
  • 48 Buns [12 pack for $2 at smart and final or costco, I think costco quality is a bit higher] or you can use 60 slices of white bread (4-5 loaves of bread)
  • Total: about $45.00

Directions_______________

  • If meat is a large pork shoulder roast, cut into 4-8 pieces. Each piece should be no taller than 4 inches. I would make softball size cuts.
  • Put meat in aluminum tray and pour sauce over meat. Rather than a large roast, it should be many smaller pieces 1/2 submerged in sauce.
  • *I would double stack the tray - they tend to bend and spill
  • Turn the oven to 275F and place in oven at midnight.
  • Take out of oven around 8 am.
  • Transfer meat to another tray and pour liquid into a large stockpot.
  • Add brown sugar (and hot sauce) to the stock pot and heat on med-high.
  • With 2 forks tear meat to large, coarse pieces (should be about 1/2-1 inch thick like picture above)
  • *don't over shred meat, it will shred even more when mixing with sauce and you get fine shreds that feel like mush.
  • *you can slice the meat into 1/8 inch slices instead for better texture.
  • Turn off stove when sauce is sufficiently thick (I usually cook for about 30-45 mins, stop when it is original thickness of the sauce). Stir occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom. Add more sugar to taste. (up to 1-2 cups more)
  • Skim off oil from the top of the sauce and discard. It's easier to do it at the end when the sauce is thicker.
  • Mix meat and sauce and serve. You can cover with foil and place in 170F oven for a few hours until ready to serve.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

It's important that the meat is surrounded by liquid (it's the medium through which heat transfers - dry heat vs moist heat). During the cooking process about 25-30% of the water leaves the meat (average cooking loss). This means about 4-5lbs or about 8-10 cups of water ( broth, collagen/gelatin) which end up in the sauce. By boiling it off, you regain the original thickness with the pork flavor conserved in the sauce.



DO NOT USE BULLS EYE OR SUGAR BASED SAUCE. This recipe is centered around a vinegar based sauce. Cattlemen is one of the few vinegar based sauces that works with this technique. I may soon post another entry on how to use sugar based sauces (Kansas City style BBQ sauces)



DO NOT ADD SUGAR TO SAUCE BEFORE GOING IN THE OVEN. The sugar raises the solute concentration and the resulting osmotic pressure forces more water out of the meat, making it dry. That's why sugar is added after the meat is taken out.



Don't over shred meat, when you mix around the sauce it tends to fall apart more. Keep it coarse and do more shredding just prior to serving if necessary. I actually recommend slicing the meat instead.

If the meat is not tender after 8 hours, raise the oven to 400F and cook for up to 1 hour or so (should not be necessary).



You can use bone in or boneless pork shoulder. They both work equally well for this dish



If you have the stovetop space, I usually pour the liquid to 2-3 pots and have them both on med-high to high. This way you utilize the heat from 2 burners and it should drastically reduce the time to reduce the liquid.



Be careful when taking out the tray! I have splattered sauce on myself too many times to count. Hold the tray by the bottom or ladle the liquid into the stockpot



[Possible side dish] chicken salad, corn bread, potato wedges

Chipotle sauce

Quick Look_______________

dish
At many Mexican restaurants there is a special chipotle sauce (smoked jalapenos). In downtown San Jose there's a burrito shop by my school that is known for their "orange sauce." It's not that hard to make and is a good condiment for carnitas. You can make it as spicy as you like by adjusting the chipotle to sauce ratio. I personally like to make 2 batches with the spicy one triple strength. That way there's something for everyone. This picture comes from a recent home worship service with one of our Berkeley college groups, acts 2 fellowship, at Gracepoint Fellowship.
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: none
  • Difficulty: Easy.
  • Labor Intensity: Easy enough to do on your own
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 2-3 cans chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (7oz for about $2 @ Mexican grocery store, Lucky, or Smart and Final - not at safeway)
  • Sour cream [$2-3 safeway]
  • Mayo (about $2)
  • Lemon juice (about 1 lemon optional)
  • salt/pepper
  • Garlic (optional)
  • Basil, oregano...etc (optional)
  • Total: under $10.00

Directions_______________

  • Pour 1 can chipotle peppers (7 oz), 1 cup mayo, 1 cup sour cream, 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, few peeled cloves of garlic, teaspoon herbs into blender.
  • Blend for 30 seconds or fully mixed.
  • If too spicy, add more ingredients, not spicy enough add more chipotle....etc
  • Adjust to taste

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

This is just a basic framework for the sauce. Adjust as you like. For extra spicy, I use 3 cans of chiptole peppers instead of one (it is quite spicy for some people). My recomendation is to make 1/2 or less of the recipe. Taste it and adjust as you like. If you keep adding more sour cream to dilute it, you can end up with way too much sauce. Figure out the ratio you like and then make as much as you need.

If you are making it in bulk, you can just blend the peppers and then stir it into the mayo/sour cream.


This kind of spice is one that numbs and burns your throat after you swallow. You can add diversity to the spice by adding hot sauce (tabasco...etc) to it for the tongue burning spice.

[Possible side dish] Serve with burritos and tortilla chips

Easy prep carnitas

Quick Look_______________

gracepoint fellowship carnitasThere's already a carnitas recipe posted, but here's an easier way to make them. It's perfect for lunch after home worship. I would place it in the oven at midnight, take it out 7-8am, shred it up and leave it in a 180F oven during worship service, take it out and serve.
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 8 hours in the oven
  • Difficulty: Easy.
  • Labor Intensity: Easy enough to do on your own, though an extra hand or two would be nice to help cut all the meat
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 12-15 lbs pork shoulder [about $18-$22 on sale at safeway, or check Costco]
  • 90 count bag of palm sized corn tortillas [$3-$4 at costco, safeway, wherever] or you can get flour tortillas
  • salt
  • oil
  • coke/pepsi
  • paprika
  • cumin (optional)
  • chili powder (optional)
  • cliantro (optional)
  • Dash of soy sauce (optional)
  • 1-2 onions [under $1]
  • 2-3 limes [about $1]
  • sour cream [$3-4 safeway]
  • shredded cheese [$5 safeway]
  • Total: about $35.00

Directions_______________

  • Preheat oven to 275 F
  • Rub 1 tsp salt per lb onto pork (12lbs will be 1/4 cup salt, 16lb will be 1/3 cup)
  • Place pork onto aluminum tray, fat side up if possible
  • Pour in 2-3 cans of coke. It should be about 1/4 inch deep. You may need more or less cans.
  • Put tray into oven at midnight.
  • Remove from oven at 7-8am and tear apart the meat using 2 forks (make coarse pieces).
  • *If the meat is not tender by 8am, turn oven to 400F and roast for another 1-2 hours (should not be necessary)
  • Add seasonings, salt, and pepper to taste (add more salt only if necessary)
  • Squeeze lime over the meat to taste, or you can slice and place wedges on the side
  • Add a dash of soy sauce to make it more savory (optional)
  • After meat is shredded (not too finely), place in aluminum tray. Cover with foil and keep in warm oven (180F, or lowest setting) and take out when you want to serve.
  • Dice onions and chop cilantro into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Serve with tortillas, sour cream, cheese

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

There may be alot of oil in the pan at the very end. Drain prior to serving. Leave it in while cooking to keep it moist and prevent it from drying out. For this reason DO NOT trim the fat off when cutting the meat. It will all render into oil which you can drain later. You can trim off fat after cooking if it is still there.



When you shred the meat apart, you will notice that it may be a little dry or bland on the inside. You can take a little liquid from the tray and mix it in to add some flavor. Always add salt last (to taste).



You can steam or microwave the tortillas to soften them prior to serving.



[Possible side dish] Serve with salsa and tortilla chips and chipotle sauce

Chocolate pudding cake

Quick Look_______________

No Image available



This past week many of the staff at Gracepoint Fellowship Church went on a retreat where we had extended time studying the Word of God with Pastor Ed and Kelly Kang. One night Vanessa made chocolate pudding cake (Jenny Shin's recipe) and it was really good. Here's the recipe for you to try at home. Also, as a side note if you have a recipe that people like (and relatively cheap and easy), I'd love to post it up.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 60 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do on your own
  • 10 servings

Ingredients_______________

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 small box instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 cups of chocolate chips
  • Total: not much $

Directions_______________

  • Mix the first six ingredients, then fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Bake in greased bundt pan at 300 degrees until done using toothpick test (1 hour or more).
  • Allow it to cool and serve

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

The most common mistake when it comes to baking is to overbeat the mix. Most people have the idea that they need to get rid of all the lumps. By overmixing, you allow gluten formation and develop an egg protein stucture which will make it "bread like." It's ok to have some lumps, it will not appear in the final product, which will then be tender and moist.

Carbonara

Quick Look_______________



I post this with some reservations. Carbonara is cheap, quick, easy, and people enjoy it; however, it's not that healthy. The main ingredients are bacon, eggs, butter, and cheese. I guess it's not that bad if you don't make it too often. Use this recipe at your own risk! With that said...many people I know love carbonara and it really is quite delicious. This recipe comes from Tim So from Gracepoint Fellowship Church, Taiwan.
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20-30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: It would be good to have an extra hand - one watching the noodles/eggs mixture and the other making the bacon mixture.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.
  • *This recipe is enough for 1 serving per person, people may want seconds!

Ingredients_______________

  • 6lb pasta noodles (spaghetti, linguine, fettuchini) [4lbs for about $5 at smart and final, or about $1-$2/lb at safeway/lucky)
  • 18 eggs (about $3)
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 cup good quality olive oil (Berkeley Bowl Organic Olive Oil is really good $10/3cup)
  • 2 pound bacon, cut into small strips (Bacon ends and pieces $1.69/lb @ Lucky at the end of the pork section)
  • 4 cup (1lb) sliced parmesan ($5 at safeway/lucky) [this isn't the grated kind you put on pizza, it's bagged with the other cheeses]
  • 3 bunches garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbs salt
  • 2 tbs pepper
  • 1 cup minced Italian parsley (not that important)
  • Total: under $30.00

Directions_______________

  • Mix eggs, salt, and parmesan in a bowl
  • Cook bacon until crispy, then reduce the heat and add the olive oil, butter, pepper, and garlic. Be careful not to actually cook the olive oil too hot or all of the flavors will get burnt off. Cook until the garlic looks tasty golden (about a minute or two)
  • Cook the pasta according to directions. When draining the pasta, save 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Be careful not to overdrain the pasta: wash in a little bit of hot water, then return it to the cooking pot with just enough of the reserved water to keep it from clumping.
  • Wait about 60 more seconds to let the noodles cool a bit. Then add the egg mixture, tossing to coat all the noodles. Then add bacon mixture and stir. If cheese clumps up too much, or if it doesn't look creamy at all, add just enough pasta water to loosen stuff up.
  • Sprinkle parsley on top and serve.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

Be careful not to cook the egg mixture. After you add the egg mix to the hot pasta, watch it carefully. If it starts clumping and looks like scrambled eggs, stop stirring and let it sit a little to cool down and then stir again.

[Possible side dish] salad and bread rolls

Dishgracepoint Poll - weekly specials

Every week I post specials from grocery stores in the Alameda - Berkeley area. In the beginning I wanted to focus on meat because it's the most effective way to reduce costs (for example, buying chicken from store X @ $1.99 instead of store Y @ 3.99 could save about $40 for a large group dinner) whereas other items would not be as dramatic (probably a couple dollars here and there).

So I'm left with a dilemma: should I post more (which could be useful, but would clutter up the blog and lead to long posts for items that wouldn't save as much) or keep it short with just meat (which I feel is the most bang for the buck in terms of posting space). Also I don't have as much experience with produce pricing so I don't really know what's a good deal for certain items and will just post what's advertised.

Anyways, you can vote to the column on the top right. If there is a majority, I'll start posting produce and whatever else you guys want. Also, if there's something else you'd like to see (desserts, drinks, snacks), you can leave a comment and I'll add it on to the options.

Food Safety pt2 - toxic foods

I wanted to write a little more about food safety and bring a little more clarity to the topic. There are 2 types of foodborne illness: food intoxication and food infection.

Food intoxication:
This is when the food is contaminated by toxins (usually a byproduct of bacteria). Bacterial count is not necessarily important because it is the toxins that cause the illness; however, bacterial count is usually a contributor.

Food infection:
This is when one consumes a large quantity of bacteria or microorganisms. In this case it is the bacteria and microorganisms themselves that multiply in the digestive tract and cause the illness.

The toxins in food intoxication are heat resistant (they aren't living organisms that could be killed by heat but toxic compounds that remain). Improper handling of raw food could allow bacteria to multiply and produce toxins. The food could be fully cooked (or well done) to kill all the bacteria, but the toxins remain. In addition, there needs to be proper handling after cooking. Warm food could become toxic if held at a warm temperature too long. The food could be reheated to kill all the bacteria, but still is unsafe to eat.There needs to be correct handling in terms of time/temperature at every stage of food prep/service.

Another thing to watch for is that food toxins could be undetectable. There may not be a funny smell or discoloration. The general rule of thumb is to keep potentially hazardous food in the temperature danger zone for no more than 4 hours before it should be discarded. To err on the safe side: if it's been out too long, I wouldn't put too much faith in it. Toxic food produces some really nasty symptoms.

What do you need to do to ensure safety?
  1. Use separate tools for meat and veggies to prevent cross contamination
  2. Keep raw food refrigerated and out only when necessary to prevent bacterial growth
  3. Fully cook the food (rare or medium rare is safe in certain conditions)
  4. Refrigerate leftovers within 4 hours if possible.
  5. Another simple tip: wash your hands before touching food! This is one easy way to prevent illness and unfortunately is often neglected,

Food Safety

There's nothing worse than giving foodborne illness to your ministry group. Most people think that once food is fully cooked the threat is gone; however, it is extremely important to correctly handle food after it is cooked. The nature of many of our events require that we often do food prep in the morning and let it sit for hours, but what's safe and acceptable?

What are the factors for controlling microorganism growth?

Temperature:
Disease causing microorganisms multiply between 41F and 135F (known as the temperature danger zone). Within that range, microorganisms grow most rapidly between 70F (room temp) and 125F.

Time:
Bacteria double every 20 minutes. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) set 4 hours as the limit for food in the temperature danger zone. At this point there are about 400,000% more bacteria and can potentially make someone ill. After 4 hours, restaurants are required by law to discard the food. These are strict standards to ensure safety, I wouldn't go much longer, but it is possible for food to still be safe after 4-5 hours if it isn't a potential hazardous food.

Acidity:
Microorganisms grow best at neutral or slightly acidic pH, which is most of what we eat.

Food:
Microorganisms need building blocks of proteins and carbs to grow. Once food is cooked, there is abundant access to these things. For example, potatoes can last for a long time when raw. But when cooked like in potato salad, the structure breaks down and bacteria now has access to broken down carbs and amino acids.

Moisture:
Microorganisms need water to grow. Unfortunately, most of the food we eat is moist and promote bacterial growth.

The 2 factors that people can control are time and temperature. One dangerous practice is to keep food warm by keeping it in a cooler for a long time. The food is kept within the danger zone for an extended time (warm means incubation temperature where bacteria thrive) and steam is trapped, keeping the environment humid and moist. This is fine if it is held for less than 4 hours; but beyond that, I would not recommend keeping food warm in a cooler.

For this reason, leftover food should be refridgerated immediately. If it has a funny smell, toss it! Depending on the food, it is possible to keep warm food safely beyond 4 hours; however, it's better to err on the safe side when planning your next event.

Buttermilk chicken

Quick Look_______________

Ok, I gotta confess -- this is just a generic picture. But, your chicken won't look much worse than this. I took the basic concept of making a saturated brine and soaking the meat in it for a few hours to deliver the right amount of salt. I started with salt water mixture, but after reading many books on the subject, I tried using buttermilk (a proven ingredient in southern cooking). By far, the buttermilk chicken was juicier and had great flavor. The highest complent I received was "WOW, this doesn't even taste like chicken [I normally hate chicken]!"It'd be awesome to prep this the night before and the fire up the grill for a summer BBQ.

Quick note about buttermilk: it only sounds fatty! Buttermilk is the leftover liquid after churning butter. Historically, milk was unpasteurized and allowed to settle to separate the cream. During this time the bacteria would ferment the mik (similar to the process in yogurt) and the result would be thicker, slightly tart, and flavorful. The kind from safeway starts with lowfat 1% milk, so it's not that bad! This is the juiciest chicken I have ever made!
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hr
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: It would be good to have an extra hand.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________


  • 20 lbs Boneless skinless chicken thigh (breast will work too, but I strongly suggest thigh, use fresh chicken, not frozen)[$1.99/lb on sale at Safeway]
  • 1/3 cup salt (you may want to use just 2 tablespoons if already salted- read note below)
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Korean red pepper (gotchugaru, but crushed red pepper will work too)
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasonings (I prefer 1/8c dried basil + 1/8c dried rosemary instead)
  • 2 cups Buttermilk ($2/qt, bottom shelf of milk section at Safeway)
  • 2/3 cup tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)
  • Total: about $42.00

Directions_______________

  • Mix seasonings and buttermilk in a bowl. Stir until dissolved.
  • Dip each chicken piece in seasoned buttermilk and place on a large tray. Pour excess buttermilk over the pieces and toss around in the tray to distribute evenly.
  • Put pieces in large ziplock bag and store in fridge. Try to squeeze all the air out before sealing
  • Let it sit for 2 hours (or overnight)
  • Grill or pan fry the meat.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

It could be difficult to get the salt right on this one. One trick that poultry companies do is pre-brine the chicken. The ones from safeway might say something like "up to 15% solution added" in the fine print on the bottom. By soaking it in a salt solution, it absorbs more water. This increases the weight and price (profit). Some are much lower (3-4% solution). The fool proof way is to do a test batch before a meal and then readjust the recipe. One quick way is to fry 1 piece and taste it. If it's too salty, add more sugar-- until sugar is doubled (it mutes the salt in a similar way it takes away the sour taste in lemonade) and mix it around and let it sit for 30 minutes. If not salty enough, add more salt, or reduce the sugar by 1/2.


When you pan fry, it may stick to the pan, don't move it yet or it will tear. Allow it to fry for a little longer and it will come off easily with a nice crisp skin.

Don't add any oil to the pan (if it is non-stick), add very little oil if at all.



You can use chicken breast, but chicken thigh will be much juicier and taste better. I would not recommend using bone-in chicken because it tends to be raw near the bone. If only bone-in is available, you can cut the bone out.


If the meat is still raw when you serve it, microwave it.


If you use frozen chicken, be sure to fully defrost it. There is a lot of water in the form of ice around each piece and you need to pat it dry before soaking it.

[Alternate variation] You can bread the meat with bread crumbs and egg and fry with oil.




[Possible side dish] salad and rice

New look!

I redesigned the site with a new template. Suggestions are welcome.

Faux brine

Here's a technique I developed for our post GLive celebration lunch we had after service at Gracepoint Fellowship Church. I have a similar technique I also developed specifically for chicken.

For stories about Glive as well as other stories from Gracepoint Fellowship Church, visit www.gracepointstories.org

Short version:

Note: This works well for small pieces of meat. It doesn't work as well for a large roast. This technique really helps for bulk cooking. When making 4 steaks, it may just be easier to measure out the salt and rub it on the meat instead.

Cut meat into serving size pieces. For every lb of meat, mix 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 5 tsp water (click here for conversion info). Mix solution until salt is dissolved. Put the meat in a large stock pot or large bucket. Pour solution over the meat and mix it until each piece is coated (imagine salad and dressing). You know it's coated if there is black pepper on the meat. If you find pieces without pepper, you need to mix the meat more. Allow it to sit for about 30 minutes, mix it around again and then put it in ziplock bags (squeeze out all air) and transport to grill or store in fridge. (let it sit for about an hour more if possible)

Don't panic- it really isn't that much solution, but that's ok: it's not really a brine

Long explaination:

How does brining work? Meat in a salty solution absorb the salt into the cell. The concentration inside the cell increases from the salt and osmosis forces water into the cell. The salt helps denature the protein and as the proteins unravel, new crevices form where water can fit. The water holding capacity increases simultaneously as osmosis pulls in more water. The resulting meat is much jucier, and can remain jucy even when fully cooked. In addition, the meat is now seasoned and much more flavorful

Brining is excellent for keeping fully cooked pork and poultry moist. It's generally not needed for beef since you can serve it rare/medium rare. A brine is about 6% salt solution in which 1/10 of the salt is incorporated into the meat over the course of hours. The remaining brine is discarded. There's too much room for error, it's easy to over salt meat by brining too long. It's great for turkey, but this process could be improved given the right circumstances.

If you cut up meat you expose more surface area and allow greater transfer. This allows a short brining time with a high concentration solution. A salt solution is saturated around 20% so that's where we start. By increasing concentration (or reducing water) the meat will absorb all the solution. (Just make sure each piece gets coated with solution) In the end there is no leftover solution to throw away. If there is 100% retention, we can calculate and control how much salt to use and all of it will be incorporated into the meat, allowing us to hit that 1% sweet spot. The ratio of salt : pepper : water is 1 : (1/3) : 6

Once the meat is seasoned, allow it to sit for an hour or two so the salt can distribute evenly within the meat.

Sirloin steak (post glive celebration lunch)

Quick Look_______________

After Gracepoint Live we had a massive BBQ with 650lbs of sirloin steak. With such portions, we needed a quick, easy, and foolproof method to season all the meat. After many tests batches, a method was developed. The result? Juicy meat with perfect flavor.

Check out our intro video for Glive and other videos at www.gracepointvideo.org
  • Prep time: 20-30 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hr
  • Difficulty: Easy.
  • Labor Intensity: It would be good to have an extra hand.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 20 lb Top sirloin steak or roast [$2.99/lb on sale at Safeway]
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • Total: about $60.00

Directions_______________

  • Cut meat into smaller pieces and put into a large stock pot or bucket (ideally 1 in thick, 2-3 in wide)
  • Mix salt, pepper, and water in a bowl. Stir until dissolved, add a little more water if necessary.
  • Slowly pour solution over meat as you mix it around. Make sure each piece is coated.
  • You can check it by looking for black pepper. If you don't see it on the meat, it means it hasn't come in contact with solution, toss meat until all pieces have pepper on it.
  • Allow it to sit for 45-60 minutes, toss it around once or twice during that time.
  • Store it in ziplock bags and transport it or store in fridge. Try to squeeze all the air out before sealing
  • If you can, allow the meat to sit for a couple hours (or even overnight) so the seasoning can evenly distribute.
  • Grill or pan fry the meat.
  • Cover the meat with foil and allow it to rest 10 minutes before serving

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

Letting the meat rest covered for 10 minutes allows it to cool and reabsorb the juice. Cutting it immediately will lead to drier meat. For more info click here.

Just make sure each piece gets solution. If there is any leftover in the end, evenly distribute it among the ziplock bags.

It's not like your typical marinade/brine, it's very little solution (saturated). Don't panic when you see how little solution there is, it's that very reason that this whole process works!

[Possible side dish] salad and rice

salt pt.2

There are many different types of salt out there and it may seem a bit confusing, maybe this will help. If you have any knowledge/experience on this, feel free to leave a comment.
  • Kosher salt: usually doesn't have any additives, cleaner taste, coarse structure, less dense (need more volume to get same amount of salt), dissolves slower/penetrates meat slower because of large structure
  • Table salt: very fine, has anti-caking additives, a bit metallic tasting
  • Sea salt: has natural minerals, light flavor, more expensive (note: not all sea salts are equal, different "impurities" lend different characteristic flavors)

Side note: how could salt be kosher? Kosher salt is called that because of it's large grain structure. It takes longer to dissolve and remains on the surface of meat for a long time. Blood is pulled out of the meat which is important to the koshering process. Because it's slow to dissolve, it's not recommended for baking.

Microwave

Usually the microwave doesn't produce very good results. The mechanism behind how it heats food is to blame. High energy radiation (microwave) is shot into the food and it causes water molecules to start spinning. The friction in the spinning water translates to heat. It's not recommended for most dishes; however, there is one crucial benefit it holds over the oven or stove...

Heat from a pan or oven enters through the surface of the food and has to conduct to the center. It takes longer and it's hard to tell what's going on inside. You can roast a chicken and it looks beautiful on the outside, but the inside is still raw because of this. Microwaves penetrate much deeper before it is converted to heat. In a microwave there is much more heat originating in the center of the food rather than just the surface.

However, microwaves work high intensity in a short period of time. This rapid process means possible uneven heating. One area could receive more microwaves and heat up much more, you may have to rotate the food halfway.

Practical application: If you are in a rush and bring out chicken that is still raw inside (or the steak is just too rare for you), stick it in the microwave. It cooks the center much faster than sticking it in the oven or stove. Another benefit is that it cooks the center quicker without overcooking the outside like direct heat could. This saved me many times when I thought the chicken was fully cooked and served it.

salt

The number 1 thing I could suggest to improve one's cooking is to learn to add the proper amount of salt. Most of the time food is bland because it isn't salted enough. Salt has a flavor, but it actually intensifies other flavors. The key is to add enough salt to bring out other flavors but just short of becoming "salty"

It's not easy coming up with a standardized amount for salt because people have different preferences and sensitivities as well as many other factors; however, there are some guidelines you can use.

2% salt is often considered the threshold of what the tongue considers palatable. I use this as my upper limit, but what's the sweet spot? If you look at many salty, savory snacks like chips you see about 1% salt. That's where I began and I found that I like about 1% (5g salt/lb). That means about 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of meat. I use this only as a guideline and always add 1/2 of it first and slowly add the rest and stop when just right (I trust my senses more than formulas).

Application: Usually I take about 3/4 teaspoon salt per pound and rub it into the surface of steaks and roasts about 2-3 hours before cooking. Use it when making mashed potatoes, grilled veggies, marinara...whatever dish where "add salt to taste" is written, use this as a guideline

There are many other factors, usually dish specific, so sometimes you need more or less than 1 teaspoon salt/lb to get 1% salt.

Better Burgers

Here's one easy tip that will quickly improve your next BBQ. Now there's nothing wrong with Costco, they usually have excellent quality; however, for some reason their frozen burgers aren't that great. Smart and Final actually has the best frozen burger patties I've seen, aside from grinding meat and making your own patties.

It's the same price (or sometimes cheaper) and another benefit is that they are IQF (individually quick frozen) - patties don't stick to one another. In my opinion, they taste alot better than Costco burgers. Smart and Final sells them in white boxes under the brand "First Street" and are differentiated by the fat content. I usually just get the cheapest. Another thing to look out for is the numbers such as 4/1. What this means is 4 patties per pound (or 1/4lb patties). They sell in 10lb boxes so you can buy 40 patties for the same price as 50 smaller patties or 30 larger patties. My recomendation is to do the standard 1/4lb.

Update

It's been a crazy month here at Gracepoint Fellowship Church - Berkeley college did Glive, we had Good Friday, and we had Easter service/picinic. Things are slowing down a little so look for more new posts in the coming weeks! There have been alot of great meals and lots of lessons learned which will trickle down to this site!

Steaks

There's a new post with some basic tips when making steaks.

It's located on the quick links section of Dish-Gracepoint (the button on the right)

Quick BBQ Brisket

Quick Look_______________

I had another post on BBQ brisket sandwich, but recently I have been experimenting with high heat to cook faster. This is a very easy recipe and it produces good results. It's an easy way to mimic the principles behind my 4 hr BBQ sauce with minimal work.
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 4 hrs
  • Difficulty: Easy.
  • Labor Intensity: It would be good to have an extra hand.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 25-30 lb Beef Brisket [$1.89/lb at smart and final on international/42nd]
  • Seasonings (optional)
  • Brown sugar (white will do)
  • 48 Buns [12 pack for $2 at smart and final or costco, I think costco quality is a bit higher]
  • BBQ sauce [cattlemen smoky, $8 for a 2pack at costco]
  • Total: about $60.00

Directions_______________

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Place the meat fat side up in an aluminum tray. You may need 2 aluminum trays for this.
  • Pour 5 cups bbq sauce on each slab of meat. (about half of an 80oz costco bottle)
  • Sprinkle on any seasonings you want (rosemary, paprika, black pepper...etc)
  • Cover tray with foil and place in oven
  • Check on it after 3-4 hours. Pinch a side and pull, it should tear off easily.
  • Pull it out and allow it to sit with foil still covering. Allow it to rest for 1hr (this is important)
  • Scrape sauce off meat and pour everything into a large pan(s) and add 2 cups brown sugar for every slab -(add sugar to bbq sauce to taste). You may have to do batches and combine all the sauce
  • Heat sauce on pan on medium/high until it gets to desired flavor and thickness (about 10-20 minutes) Stir as it boils off to prevent burning. If it starts popping, turn down heat.
  • After sauce is thicker and concentrated to taste, skim off oil on top and discard.
  • While one person attends to the stove, the other person can slice the meat into 1/8 inch slices.
  • Pour sauce over meat and serve over warmed buns

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

Beef brisket is a cut of meat that you want to cook all the way. The tough nature of the fibers requires it to be kept at a high temp long enough to become tender. It's better and actually more flavorful when well done. The high collagen content makes it unique in that it protects it from drying out as it cooks. It remains juicy even when fully cooked.

Letting the meat rest for 1hr allows it to cool and reabsorb the juice. Cutting it immediately will lead to drier meat. For more info click here.

Allowing the sauce to cook with the meat breaks down the tomato flavor as well as evaporate the vinegar. The resulting sauce is off balanced and needs sugar. Meat loses about 20-30% of it's weight in water loss. This means the water escapes and dilutes the sauce. After letting the meat rest and reabsorb the juice, you can pour the sauce into a pan and boil it off to concentrate it to the right flavor. It should have thick bubbles as it cooks (after about 15-20 min). A large pan works well because of the larger surface area to evaporate the water. Stir well so it doesn't clump and burn on the bottom. Skim the oil off at the end once it thickens (brisket is a fatty meat)

I strongly recommend cattlemen's bbq sauce. It produces much better flavor than some of the other sauces out there.

One way to do this is to cook the meat, allow it to cool and then refrigerate it overnight in it's own juice. The next day you can slice the meat and then reheat in the oven at 400F for 1 hr while reducing the sauce. Then mix altogether before serving. This allows it to absorb more juice, develop stronger flavors, and cut down on prep needed on the day of.

[Possible side dish] salad

How to get juicy meat

When it comes to meat, there are 3 criteria to focus on: flavor, tenderness, and juiciness. Flavor is a product of seasonings and the drawing out the inherent flavor of the meat. Tenderness is achieved by cooking long enough to break down the tough connective tissue or preventing overcooking. Even if the meat is tender and flavorful, if it is dry and chalky, then it’s not that exciting.

The number one preventable thing is to not overcook the meat. For beef, cook it until it is just pink with a little brown (internal temp of about 135F). Chicken needs to be cooked to 165F. When it overcooks, the fibers shrink and its ability to hold water is lost.
One technique is to brine meat before cooking. The salt solution causes the meat to absorb some liquid. More liquid to start with hopefully leads to more liquid in the end product.

Another crucial tip is to allow meat to rest. The fibers rearrange themselves when hot and liquid is squeezed out, usually towards the center. When the meat cools, it regains some ability to absorb liquid and it gets reincorporated into the fibers. Think of it this way: you throw a sponge into a wet bucket and then onto a tray. As it “cooks”, you press lightly on the top of it. Water drips out and makes a small puddle near the sponge. You can cut it right there on the spot, but it will be a little dry. If you release your hand from the sponge, it recoils and reabsorbs some of the liquid it lost as it “cools” When you slice it after, it retains more juice.

When you make a steak, take it off the grill and place a foil “tent” (or blanket) over it and allow it to cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving. This means you will have to factor that into the schedule. You will have to allow a roast to rest a little longer than a steak due to its larger size. Another tip is to allow it to rest in its own juice rather than alone on a cutting board. It can soak up liquid from outside as it rests.

In addition, keeping it covered keeps the steam from escaping, preventing it from drying.
There’s tons of scientific reasoning why this works, but in practice, it really does make a difference when you allow meat to rest. Keep it warm however, you don’t want to serve cold meat. A foil tent, or placing it in a cooler would help keep it warm and moist.

Dak Jjim (닭찜) or Soy Sauce Chicken

Quick Look_______________

No picture available

Here's a quick and easy recipe to make in bulk. It's Korean braised chicken where you toss everything in a pot and it's ready to serve in an hour.

  • Prep time: 10-15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hr
  • Difficulty: Easy. Just make sure you fully cook everything
  • Labor Intensity: You can do on your own very easily!
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 20lbs frozen chicken drumstick/thighs (usually about $1/lb on sale. If not, buy frozen bag at Safeway)
  • 10lb potatoes (about $4 @ Safeway)
  • water
  • Soy sauce
  • sugar
  • 5 onions
  • 2 garlic bunchs (use whole fresh bunches instead of pre minced)
  • 2-3 pots of rice
  • Total: about $25

Directions_______________

  • Pour 4 cups soy sauce, 4 cups sugar, 6 cup water into a pot and heat on high until boiling, then reduce to medium heat. *you will need a large stock pot or 2 smaller pots.
  • Take chicken pieces and peel the skin off (if you want to). Another variation is to chop up the meat, but I usually skip that to save time.
  • Add chicken to pot and cook for 20 minutes.
  • While chicken is cooking, peel potatoes and chop into 1 inch pieces.
  • Separate garlic cloves from the bunch and take the flat end of a knife and place it over the clove. Hit the flat end with your palm to smash the garlic. Peel off the torn skin and throw the garlic into the pot.
  • Slice onions in any way.
  • After chicken has cooked for 20 minutes, stir and flip over chicken pieces and then add potatoes and onions.
  • Cook for 30-40 more minutes, stirring every 20 minutes.
  • Serve with rice.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

I like to add a few jalapenos with a slit down the side to add spice. I also like to add a few spoonfuls of red pepper paste and red pepper flakes. When I used to make this during my undergrad years, I'd like to add a little hickory/smoky BBQ sauce with soy sauce to give it a western flavor.

You can also add carrots. I would add about 2-3lbs baby carrots with potatoes.

Potatoes cook in about 30-40 minutes. Chicken should be cooking the whole time to avoid it being raw.

I like to serve with rice and pour a ladle of juice in the pot over the rice.

When cooking, make sure the lid is closed so it doesn't get too concentrated and to keep the water level the same.

[Possible side dish] Serve with rice

Potatoes

Potatoes are versatile; however, not all potatoes are created equally. When should you pay a little more and use red potatoes?

What gives potatoes different characteristics is how the starch molecules are arranged. When the glucose molecules are lined straight down in a chain, it makes up amylose and when the molecules branch out to the side, it forms amylopectin. The chains in amylose are easily broken when cooked and would be good for mashing, however, the high amylose content also gives it a "grainy" texture which I like to counteract with butter. The branched structure in amylopectin provides structural support so the potato can maintain it's form.

Russet potatoes (the kind you get in 5lb/10lb bags) contain more amylose. This is good when you want to break it apart as in mashed potatoes. It's also good for baked potatoes or potato wedges when you want a soft, tender texture. When used in soups or stews, it tends to fall apart. Imagine potato chunks that start disintegrating in curry or chowder.

Red/white/yellow potatoes are good for soups, potato salads, scalloped, or au gratin where it doesn't turn to mush after cooking. It's good when you want it to retain it's form.

In practice, you can use any potato for almost any purpose when it really comes down to it. It may not be best suited to that specific purpose, but can work if it's unavailable or significantly more expensive. For example, I actually like to use red potatoes for mashed potatoes because it doesn't become so grainy, it just means a little more work during food prep. Just keep this in mind the next time you make a dish with potatoes and want to get a certain characteristic.

One final note is to remove any sprouts on potatoes because they are toxic, but you would need to eat a large quantity to get sick. I would just be safe and get new potatoes if they start to sprout.

Solubility

A quick way of mixing drinks is to use a small amount of hot water to dissolve the powder. Measure how much powder you need and then slowly add the minimum amount of the hottest water you can get to dissolve it all. Then add cold water to fill it up. Check it before it finishes and stop adding water when the flavor is right. If you want to add ice, stop when it's a little stronger than you want because the ice will melt and dilute the drink.

Long, scientific explaination:

Sugar is usually the primary ingredient in these drinks (lemonade, iced tea) so lets look at how it interacts with water. We know that boiling water will dissolve 2.7 times more sugar than ice cold water, but in practice it seems to be more effective than 3 times as fast. That's because we are looking only at the thermodynamics (the end state). We know that all the sugar in the mix will dissolve completely so we don't need to worry about the thermodynamics, but we want to know is the kinetics behind it (the rate that it gets to the end state). We don't care about the final capacity, but how fast it can dissolve.

In terms of kinetics, we know that the free energy (delta G) increases in a non-linear rate with hot vs cold water. Practically what this means is the energy in the fast moving water molecules are breaking apart the sugar molecules so you don't have to through stirring. For example, 25 grams of sugar added to a liter of water will dissolve in 30 minutes in ice water, 15 minutes at room temperature, and 4 minutes in hot tap water. If you take near-boiling water from a water heater, it's over 10 times quicker to dissolve than cold water. It's even faster if you stir it as you add the water.

Usually about 2 cups of hot water would be enough for a 5 gallon cooler. If you use boiling water, then the final product will be 2 degrees warmer after adding cold water. A few ice cubes can cancel this out. It really does make mixing drinks more consistent and quicker.

New feature

When it comes to cooking, it's not just following recipes. Understanding food as well as what and why you are doing what you are doing allows you to make better food (or at least prevent mistakes)

You may have noticed the button on the left side which will take you to a page of quick links with useful info.

The first article is about chuck

.

Hummus

Quick Look_______________


So the analogy goes something like this....


mashed potatoes : potatoes ::


a) guacamole : avacados


b) hummus : garbanzo beans


It's really that simple. Hummus is mashed up garbanzo beans (chick peas) with a few extras mixed in. The surprising thing is that it's really not that expensive to make yourself. It's actually about 4 times more expensive to buy it at Costco. It's a good, healthy snack you can serve with pita chips, pita bread, or crackers. There are a ton of hummus recipes out there...go look up some and try different variations. I'm going to post a very basic recipe.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: None
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • (4) 15oz cans of garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable (olive) oil
  • salt
  • garlic (optional)
  • 1 cup Tahini (ground sesame paste)
  • Total: $5- $10

Directions_______________

  • Drain cans, but save 1 cup of the liquid.
  • Add 2 cans to a blender/food processor (or whatever quanitity it can hold)
  • Add 1/2cup tahini (I don't have this and often omit it, some people substitute sesame seeds)
  • Add 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Add 1/4 cup oil (olive if you have it)
  • Add 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • You can add 2 whole cloves of garlic if you want.
  • Blend and slowly add 1/3 cup liquid from garbanzo beans until desired consistency
  • Repeat batch until finished

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

It's good and better for you since it doesn't have all the perservatives, but there's still something about store bought that I like a little more. Play around with the ingredients and modify it according to what you like.

Raw garlic will have a pungent flavor. You can make it mellow by dicing it and then frying it on a pan before blending.

Oil will make the hummus smoother and "creamier". If you want you can omit the oil, but it will be a bit grainy.

Some people add cumin and paprika. Both sound like they would go well with it.

If you want to try to substitute sesame seeds for tahini, you could dry roast them on a pan on medium heat, blend with oil to make a paste, then add the rest of the ingredients.

[Possible side dish] crackers, pita bread, pita chips

Conversions

This week's post is a little lame, but I just wanted to cover some basics. Whenever you scale up or down a recipe, it's pretty straightforward most of the time. You could save time if you do some simple conversions. For example if you had a recipe that called for 1 tablespoon and you wanted to make 4 times as much, you could either use 4 tablespoons or pour it into a 1/4 cup, which would be a little more accurate. Here's a list of some conversions:

Gallon = 4 quarts = 8 pints = 16 cups

Quart= 4 cups = 2 pints
Pint= 2 cups

1 cup = 48 teaspoons = 16 tablespoon = 8oz = 1/2lb of water

1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons

All you really need to remember is 1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons. 1 cup = 16 tablespoons and you could figure the rest out from there.

Personally, I do everything in metric, I find it quicker and easier. A teaspoon is about 5ml, tablespoon=15ml, cup=240ml and so it's just figuring out which one to use, kinda like making change. For example if a recipe calls for 1/3 cup and you want to do half of it, you could convert it to 80ml and then half it to 40ml, which is about 3 tablespoons.

Korean Radish Soup (Moo Gook 무국)

Quick Look_______________

Korean radish soup is cheap and easy to make. Unlike most Korean soups, it's not spicy but has a mild flavor. It's a fairly light meal, but when your stomach is full of warm soup and rice... be careful.
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself, but 3-4 helpers would be good.
  • 30 servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 8 lbs beef (chuck, stew meat, brisket ...about $2/lb. Brisket is under $2 at smart and final)
  • 4 gallons water
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • Pepper
  • 6 large Korean radishes (Daikon) about 6-8 inch long, like a small football (sold at Koreana market or most Asian markets)
  • 1 bunch garlic (cheaper at Asian markets than Safeway)
  • 1 large onion
  • Total: about $20

Directions_______________

  • You will need a large stock pot, I personally would split it into 2 large stock pots if you have space on the stove.
  • Boil the large pot(s) as well as a smaller pot of water, reduce to medium heat once boiling.
  • While water is boiling, cut the meat into 1-2 inch cubes
  • Add meat to small boiling pot for 10 minutes
  • Take the meat out of the water and rinse off the foam. Discard water in small pot.
  • Add the meat to the large boiling stock pot.
  • Cut the ends off of the onion, peel the skin off, and add whole onion to the large stock pot.
  • Peel skin off of garlic bunch. You can use the side of a knife to smash the garlic and throw it in whole, crushed, to the boiling pot.
  • While meat is boiling, peel radish and cut into thin disks (like pepperoni), then cut into quarters (like pizza slices)
  • Allow meat to boil for 90 minutes to get tender, remove from pot and shred (optional).
  • Strain out the onion and garlic and discard.
  • Add radish to soup, allowing it to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until tender.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. Read more about it below.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

The meat is boiled and transfered after 10 minutes to cook the blood on the surface and then discard it. This way the large stock pot with soup will not have little blood clots or foam on top.

I personally feel what makes or breaks this is getting the salt right. Too often people undersalt soup. I would pour 1/3 cup of salt into a bowl and pour 1/2 of it into the soup. Then add it slowly to taste. I like to make it a bit salty to bring out the flavor...I will post more about this later. Add as much pepper as you like.

A large stock pot will be adequate if it could hold 4 gallons. For reference, the drink coolers we use are 5 gallons. You may need to split this into 2 smaller pots. This will provide 2 cups per person (or half a nalgeen bottle).

[Alternate variations] You can add about 5 chopped green onions before serving. Another variation is to add a few cups of fish sauce, or about 20 dried anchovies to the water and strain them out at the end.

[Possible side dish] serve with rice.


Thai Curry

Quick Look_______________

Dish-gracepoint-thai-curryThis recipe comes from Tim So:
Thai(esque) Green Curry Chicken [I apologize in advance for grossly misrepresenting what this dish is probably supposed to taste like in Thailand.]Thai Curry tastes good for pretty simple reasons: it's meaty, creamy,and armotic(-y). To that end, I like to make it a bit different than most people in our church like it (no offense to Bo, as this is based on her recipe plus one I found on F&W). Basically, it's mostly meat (surprise!).
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1/2 - 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself, but 3-4 helpers would be good.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 8 pound boneless/skinless chicken meat (pref. breast, but dark will do dandy) (about $2/lb for chicken)
  • 8 (19 oz.) can coconut milk (about $1.50 each at Ranch 99)
  • 2 cups stock, broth, or msg/msg soup base (4 tsp)
  • 8 average Chinese eggplant (.75 to 1 pound)
  • 12 tbsp (3/4 cup) mae ploy curry paste + more to taste ($3 a jar)
  • 12 tbsp (3/4 cup) sugar (or one half a circular palm sugar thing) + more to taste
  • 12 tbsp (3/4 cup) fish sauce (I use 3 crabs brand) + more to taste
  • Some* Thai basil, whatever that means!
  • Total: about $30

Directions_______________

  • You will need a large stock pot.
  • Heat coconut milk, curry paste, sugar, and fish sauce in a pot at medium heat. Stir occasionally to make sure it doens't burn to the bottom of your pot.
  • Cut chicken into pieces. I generally aim for 1/4" x 1.5" strips.
  • Cut the eggplant with a 45 degree bias, 1" thick. If they're too gigantor, cut these disks in half.
  • Fry chicken with some oil (about 1 tbsp), however you want to do that. Get it brown, but you don't have to cook it all the way through. Tip: using a good wok requires less oil than a traditional frying pan. But since coconut milk has so much fat, it probably doesn't matter. Reserve the chicken and leave the oil/fat behind.
  • Lightly stir-fry the eggplant in the leftover oils and fats. As soon as it looks like the fat has disappeared (i.e. been absorbed) remove the eggplant and reserve. Deglaze the pan with the stock, reduce until thick, and pour the flavorful bits into the coconut milk. Note: deglazing means pouring the liquid into the pan while it's still hot and scraping up all the junk on the bottom of the pan: it tastes good. If you're using MSG instead of stock, use water and then add the msg to the coconut milk.
  • Adjust the flavor of the coconut milk with fish sauce, curry, and sugar. Add curry if it's not aromatic enough. Add fish sauce if it's bland. Add sugar if you want more sugar. If it's not creamy enough, turn up the heat until it's bubbling and wait for the curry to reduce (if you use Mae Ploy coconut milk you probably will never encounterthe "not creamy" problem). Add reserved eggplant once you've settled on the flavor.
  • When the eggplant looks like it's getting tender, add the chicken and gently simmer until everything is just cooked (try getting a big chunk of chicken and splitting it in two to check). Reduce heat to low or keep warm setting. If it looks more like a big pile of eggplant and chicken instead of the Thai curry that you're used to, congratulations!
  • Wilt some fresh thai basil in the curry just before serving. How much should you use? I have no idea since I never measured it! Use enough, but not too much.
  • Optional: If you have tons of money you want to discard, or want a more authentic recipe, slice the tender part of 1/2 lemon grass stalk and a kaffir leaf. Add them to the mixture at the same time as the eggplant. I find I can get good approximation of the subtle citrus highlights these impart with lime zest, lime juice, and sugar (do all these things to taste). Or forget about it and just add more meat (my personal recommendation).

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________


I would suggest using Mae Ploy Coconut milk over Chaokoh coconut milk. It's much more creamier and results in a better flavor.

Adding more curry will not necessarily add more flavor, it will just make the curry spicier. If you want it more flavorful, add more fish sauce. If you want it less spicy, add less curry paste.

[Possible side dish] rice and salad

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from Dish-Gracepoint Fellowship Church!